Chipotle Opens! (Downtown Toronto)
I know that a number of people on Chowhound have been talking about this, and since I don't think anyone has reported back yet, let me be the first:
For those who don't know, Chipotle is a burrito chain from the U.S. that opened its first Canadian restaurant TODAY on Yonge Street near the Toronto Life Center.
The lines weren't too long, even for opening day, but ultimately I was a bit dissapointed and just wanted to prepare anyone who is getting their hopes up about this. By Toronto standards, what I got would be considered an above-average burrito, but that's not saying a lot and I wouldn't even say it was the best I've had in the city.
In retrospect, I was never a big fan of Chipotle in the U.S., and growing up in California, I was used to having more choices than that. However, the burrito I got here at this new Torontonian Chiptle seemed even slightly worse than the Chipotles I remember in the U.S., although I can't put my finger on exactly why. FYI, I had a barbacoa burrito.
One thing that was inexcusably bad were the chips and salsa. They almost made me want to puke. They were rubbery and packaged like they'd been sitting in storage for a year, and had a nauseating amount of salt on them to disguise probably to disguise the lack of flavor. Come to think of it, the hot salsa had a distinctive salty taste as well (neither are supposed to). You can definitely get much better chips and salsa in a supermarket, and the worst part is that they charge extra for both the chips AND the salsa. I don't remember if they do that in the U.S. or not, but the chips are definitely not worth extra.
I should point out that some people on here have also recommended a place called Moes, which is another U.S. chain, and I have to say that their burritos are better than Chipotle's in my opinion. The best thing I can say about Chipotle is that if it becomes popular, it may start a trend and we may start to get other U.S. Southwest cusine coming north.
I tried Chipotle today as well (and responded in the original Chipotle Toronto thread; I wonder if my post stuck), and prefer it over Moe's or the Boys. I didn't try the chips or salsa, but the burrito tasted the same to me as the US versions (or better, in some cases). I went when they were just opening in the morning, and everything seemed fresh to me.
Here's my post in the original thread:
Did you really find that burrito too large to eat the whole thing? That's weird...I thought it was rather small. I've definitely seen buritos 5x larger in the States.
I will agree with you the ingredients seemed pretty fresh and good quality (with the exception of the chips), which is very uncommon for fast food type places around here. They even had real lettuce, not iceburg. The meat seemed fairly on-par with what I remember its U.S. counterparts being like, which is a good thing. I think that's their trademark.
On the other hand, the sour cream was a bit flat and the cheese was rather plain too, which are two things important to my burrito even though I know its not strictly authentic.
I tried Moes in Toronto not long ago, and I actually thought they were fairly decent. They have some unique flavors in their mix. Their salsa is also much better and free, the way it should be.
I had the Carnitas with black beans Burrito today and found it was as good as in the states . . . Have I had a better burrito in Mexico, california, texas, arizona?.... yes . . . have I had a better one in toronto? . . . No (and I've tried many)...I think it's a pretty good deal for the money considering a footlong from certain sub shops cost you the same or more and they are not remotely "real" . . . at least you are getting some fresh ingredients and meat you can actually identify . . . .
As well ...I have a decent appetite and I was definitely full after my meal . . . .as far as the chips go . . . I didn't order them as I never liked them in the states either....
That's my 2 cents worth...
P.S. For the record I actually do like the subs from Belly Busters on Yonge street . . . I didn't want to come across as an anti sub guy as they do serve their purpose...
If by "certain sub shops", you mean Subway, that's what Quizno's was invented for. No processed cheese and fresh hand-carved meat. I mean, I've seen them carve...at least in the U.S.
Chips are half the dining experience, when I'm in the mood for anything Mexicanish. I'm surprised they were so bad, because it seems like such a simple thing, but bad chips can totally ruin the mojo.
I mean, I knew I should have been suspicious when I saw the chips came prepackaged in paper bags, but at the last minute I said, "what the hey, I'll give them a try." I wanted to have the full experience. But after eating a few of them, I just stopped, because I knew my tongue would go numb from the huge salt crystals and I wouldn't be able to taste anything else I was eating. That's how bad they were!
The one thing I'm hoping right now is that after Chipotle's brave move, their biggest competitor, Baja Fresh, will take a hint and also come up here.
There is no reason why a chip truck or an ice cream truck in Toronto could not convert to Mexican food, as long as they have refrigeration and stick to the health codes.
However. no truck owner will rush into this, because fries and soft ice cream are popular and profitable, especially when only a few trucks are licensed.
I tried it yesterday at dinner - short line-up that took about 5 minutes, but boy, was I disappointed with the food. My problem was probably ordering the soft taco (barbacoa) rather than the burrito. It was way over-salted, and since the chips presented the same problem I got about half-way through before I said no mas. I suppose if you put the meat in a burrito where there is more fillings, the salt is not as noticable. I cannot honestly say if the meat was good or not because I could not get around the saltiness. Also, would it kill them to give a small amount of chips for free - by the time I had the tacos, chips/salsa, and small drink it was over $12.
What's so bad about Moe's? It's a burrito with fresh indredients and you pretty much tell them what to put in it. I don't think Moe's is groundbreaking or anything but it serves it's purpose when I'm in the area and want a burrito.
Based on some of these threads I guess burritos reviews are like pizza or a burger. In the sense that people have a certain idea of what they want going into it so opinions are based on personal preference rather than quality or taste.
I always enjoyed Chipotle in the US on about the same level that I enjoy Moe's here so I'm going to check it out. I've had some sketchy meat issues with Chipotle in the past but otherwise always liked it.
I eat at Chipotle about once a month. The food is fresh, prepared quickly and satisfying. My main complaint is the lack of choices. It's difficult to build a tasty vegetarian or lower fat meal. I'd love to see them offer different kinds of vegetables, beyond just "salad," perhaps a fish alternative, and some soup. They don't have to go as broad as Baja Fresh, but it's nice to have some variety.